Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oprah and Gayle's Big Yosemite Adventure

I was reminded of the Oprah episodes I watched last fall during lecture today. Oprah responds to a Yosemite Park Ranger, Shelton, who writes in asking for her to visit the park to inspire more black visitors to America's National Parks. Oprah and her best friend (????....), Gayle, head out to Yosemite for some "classic" camping. Besides the laughs, the show displays many of the visual wonders of the park and what "camping" has become. As a camper myself, their experience is a bit upscale for my taste. Then again, it's Oprah.

I'm not very good at the whole hulu, youtube, and other tv show streamer deal, but if you're in for a laugh and some beautiful shots of Yosemite search for Oprah and Gayle's Big Yosemite Adventure (and hope you can find a copy of the show online). Otherwise check out the trailers:

Bierstadt and Yosemite

Just added a link to "Albert Bierstadt--The Complete Works," with 375 or so images of Bierstadt's work. Here is one of his views of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Hetch Hetchy Valley

The Wiki article on Hetch Hetchy provides an overview of the reservoir controversy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Town that Was" Documentary

I was looking for more information about the underground mine fires in Pennsylvania, and I found this trailer for a documentary titled "The Town that Was." It highlights the situation in Centralia, PA, and the area's transformation into a ghost town. Here's the link to the trailer ...

Iron Eyes Cody on Futurama

In volume 3 episode 12 a native martian tears when litter is thrown on the ground mimicking Iron Eyes Cody. In response the character Lela states "They have such respect for the planet". KAB would be proud.

Monday, March 28, 2011

William Cronon in the news

Here are some links to the Cronon incident mentioned in class this morning:

"Abusing Open Records to Attack Academic Freedom":

"Wisconsin Gets Weirder":

and this morning's New York Times:

"American Thought Police":

Underground Coal Fire

These two links give information about a town, Centralia,PA, that is on fire literally underneath the town from the coal. What could be the environmental implications from the fire and how does a town deal with this distruction?,_Pennsylvania

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Hunt

Over break I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and one of the display cases had a variety of weaponry with images of "The Hunt" carved on them. I took a picture of this one because of the image of the deer on it; but it was just one of many swords. I thought this was relevant and worth sharing because it shows that people, and museum curators, maybe see/understand the relevance between nature and culture. I thought it was neat seeing real-life examples of stuff we talked about in lecture-it added another dimension to seeing this in the museum. (When I was there I also saw the Frederick Church painting, Pichincha (the one that was painted in South America) but one of the staff saw me take a picture so I had to be extra stealth so it did not come out very good)

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Denzel Washington movie

I recently watched the new Denzel Washington movie "Unstoppable". The movie is about a train that is going at high speed but without a conductor, and, naturally, Denzel Washington is expected to stop this speeding train. Interestingly, the movie takes place in Pennsylvania. Much of the scenery and the track that this movie follows parallel to many of the "pretty pictures" we have looked at in class. I found myself thinking about our class discussions and mirroring my understanding of the scenes in the movie with what we have learned in class. The movie also provides an interesting perspective on how cities have built up around the train. The movie was pretty entertaining, but, more than anything, it does have a nice connection to our discussions in class lately! Watch it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Disney's Possible Version of the Ecological Indian?

For some reason, this example just came to me as I began my spring break re-watching old-school Disney movies (from the 1990s). It dawned on me that Pocahontas would be a movie that would provide a perfect example of the way Ecological Indians are viewed, especially in the scene where Pocahontas sings to John Smith about the Colors of the Wind. In case people no longer own the video, here's a youtube link:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Molly Maguires

I found this YouTube video on the Molly Maguires. It gives some history and description on the group--didn't realize they were so violent! It's a pretty interesting story.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


So the other day in class someone asked about the dimensions to the "wanderer above the sea of fog painting." well fortunately the wikipedia page for the painting has them, as well as some very detailed descriptions and commentary. enjoy!

Thoreau's railroad cut and Japanese landslide

Looking through the horrific images of the destruction in Japan, I came across the photo below on the right. It is an image of a landslide over railroad tracks, which I noticed to be quite similar in composition to the photo on the left of the railroad cut from class the other day.

Youtube of the Tsunami

I guess with the onset of things such as youtube, it is getting easier by the day to observe how truly awesome and powerful nature is. I was looking for footage after I read an article in the New York Times that mentioned how much video coverage was being posted online.

I think that perhaps the most interesting thing is the comments on the youtube clip. I think events like this really open peoples eyes to the devastating power of nature.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Primitive Pursuits

This past Summer I decided to stay in Ithaca. I wanted to find a job that would connect me more with the community and surrounding areas and after some job searching I stumbled upon an outdoor education program for children known as Primitive Pursuits. I have always been interested and active in outdoor activities and knew that working with children to foster this same interest in them was something that appealed to me. I signed on to be an assistant field instructor for eight weeks of Primitive Pursuits Summer Camp. This experience would allow me to see nature and humans as one in the same as opposed to two separate entities.

Throughout the Summer I learned how to make a fire after walking into the woods with just a knife and a piece of rope, how to make a shelter from things found only in the forest that would keep you warm and dry, how to sneak up on animals and how to hunt using various tools such as the atl-atl, bow and arrow and tomahawk. But most importantly I connected with nature in a way that I had never experienced before.

This experience pushed me to see nature in a different light. I began to think of nature as a balancing agent, something that was capable of bringing me back to reality even when all other aspects of my life seemed to be falling apart. I marveled and continue to marvel at this phenomenon. It was exciting to learn so many new and interesting primitive skills, such as those I discussed above, but even more amazing was this newly discovered force that I found to be essential to the life I was living. In conclusion, I challenge those who dismiss pursuits of a primitive way of life as nonsense, folklore and irrelevant to today to rethink their position on this matter. Might it not be the skills and technicalities of such a pursuit that are valuable but rather a simple questioning of your current state of being?

Check out the Primitive Pursuits program here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

The fall of the roman empire

J. Donald Hughes in his book ‘Pan’s Travail,’ claims there was an ecological dimension to the fall of the Roman Empire (page 6). I am not denying that Rome had extensive ecological and health problems I am merely insinuating that though these problems afflicted the Roman people it had absolutely nothing to do with the fall of the Empire itself. Some sources claim Rome was basically polluting the citizens to death. Upper class citizens used lead so extensively people were dying of lead poisoning, Romans were not particularly adept at soil conservation, and they experienced their own medieval form of air pollution. They were also known for their sewage filled streets and their extensive timbering.
Yes these environmental issues will seem like that could topple the empire, but the problem with such a theory is that Rome was well accustomed to these problems by the peak of Rome’s power around the middle of the second century. Instead, the fall of the Roman Empire was attributed to an overall military, political and economic breakdown. The economic difficulties were not brought about as a result of trying to stifle environmental problems. On the contrary, it came about due to the military and populace strain of an ever-expanding empire.
The details of the fall cannot be completely documented here but as a synopsis, Rome’s demise or decline was a three century ordeal. The empire got so large that it was eventually split in two. This political system has been seen as staple for the beginning of Rome’s definite end. Eventually, the Western part of the Empire fell to the barbarians hired to protect it (Rome’s military problems progressed so that her son’s no longer protected the state). Even with the fall of the Western Empire the Eastern half persisted until 1453 where it fell to (nothing to do with environmental problems) to the Ottoman Empire.
            The English Empire (the largest empire ever), which basically spanned from 1583 to 1997, too saw its share of environmental difficulties, such that the Roman problems seem trivial in comparison. Yet this empire too persisted until it was destroyed by war (as all empires seem to be). The greatest nations of today are not free of this environmental plague. The strength of a nation is determined on its accumulated resources that in turn dictate waste and consumption. Therefore I suggest, that at least to the present, that history suggests that the most powerful countries, those that truly affect world affairs are not destroyed by environmental degradation but instead rise because of or in spite of it.

just over a week away... Support the people who feed you and care for the environment

Here is a link to the NAtional Ag Day website which helps kick off Ag week which is March 13-19. Stop and think about where your food comes from and try to connect with a farmer near you... You might be surprised by all the things they do to care for the environment and feed the world on a daily basis!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A comment about The Ecological Indian

I just wanted to comment on what I thought was one of the most important things Krech did throughout his book -- He consistently named specific tribes, as well as citing the differences between them. I think this is especially important considering his comment about masking cultural diversity; he does a great job of differentiating the various tribes and their cultures. Good job Krech, for avoiding generalizations! (It definitely made me respect him more as an author when I noticed that he had not fallen into a very tempting trap.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dairy industry and 2012 farm bill

News today that NY Senator Gillibrand wants to overhaul the milk pricing system prior to the farm bill...